'It is daunting to move across the world without knowing anyone'

Through her job at a migration agency in Sydney, Aoife Carey helps immigrants with visa applications

Aoife Carey works at a registered migration agency in Sydney.

Aoife Carey works at a registered migration agency in Sydney.


Working Abroad Q&A: Each week, Irish Times Abroad meets an Irish person working in an interesting job overseas. This week, Aoife Carey on working at a registered migration agency in Sydney, assisting people with visa applications.

When and why did you leave Ireland?

I am from a little town called Kilmurry in Co Clare. I left Ireland, with my partner, in July 2015 for Sydney. I had finished my university degree and wanted to experience living in another country for a year or so. I only planned on staying in Australia for one year, but after my first few months I knew I wanted to stay longer.

Why Sydney?

Sydney stood out for me because I have a cousin living here with her family, so I knew I had a base. It’s quite a daunting task to move half way across the world without knowing anyone there on the other end. It’s always good to know you have a support network.

Sydney is a bustling city with lots going on and, of course, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are sights that I always dreamed of seeing. When researching different cities, Sydney appealed to me more as there were more job opportunities and a lot of young Irish people living there.

What do you do there and what does your job involve?

I work for a registered migration agency in the city centre. We assist people and companies in getting visas to work, live and travel in Australia. My role involves many things, from reviewing CVs to answering questions and queries about the migration process, under the guidance of a registered migration agent.

I also do a lot of marketing and promotions and write articles describing what we do and promoting our services. I have a lot of room to be creative and pursue ideas. Each day is different and I get a lot of satisfaction seeing the amount of people we help on a daily basis.

What study/career path did you follow?

I studied English and Media and Communications in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. After that, I worked in insurance for a year in Ireland and then in various call centres when I first arrived in Australia. All my roles have been customer service based. From applying for my own visas and helping friends with theirs, I had a keen interest in how the process worked.

Can you tell us about the recent changes regarding Australian visa applications?

The Australian visa system has been constantly evolving over the past few years. Generally speaking, Australia’s policy around migration has historically had streams such as Skilled, Family, Protection/Refugee, Business and Tourism visas. This has fundamentally not changed, and a lot of changes in recent months are easily navigated with the help of a migration agent.

Occupation lists are changing more often, to be in line with market conditions, and to ultimately be more responsive to the needs of Australia as a whole.

The changes go across training visas, some longer-term work visas, and transitions to residency. Overall though,  most people still have options to come and work and stay in Australia.

Do you think working abroad has offered you greater opportunities?

I think working abroad will allow me to take my career forward and expose me to far more opportunity than I had back home. Australia is a fast-growing economy and is so quick-paced. Working abroad gives you more rounded and varied experience.

Are there any other Irish people in your business/social circles in Sydney?

In my company, I am the only Irish person, although there are many people from the UK working with me. There is a support page on Facebook called Irish Around Sydney which has more than 45,000 members and this is useful for things like finding jobs, accommodation and meeting new people.

What is it like living in Sydney?

Sydney is like a building site at the moment, there seems to be a new apartment block going up every day. Accommodation here is plentiful and you can always find something to suit your needs. Most apartment blocks will have a pool, gym, jacuzzi and underground car space – but you do pay high prices for facilities like this. Rent here is expensive, the average price for a two-bedroom apartment varies, but most start from AUD $700/€457 per week. But the wages here are higher.

In terms of social life, there is always something going on to suit everyone’s taste. There are wine, chocolate and cheese festivals, and the nightclub and pub scene is also good. A fun fact about Australia is that it has 10,685 beaches. You could visit a new beach every day for 29 years.

Where do you see your future?

I see my future in Sydney, travelling, working hard and enjoying my time here. I am very interested in the whole visa and migration world, so I hope to learn more skills and maybe one day become a registered agent myself. I do see myself travelling a lot to Ireland in the future, to visit my family and hopefully they will come out here to experience a hot Christmas.

Is there anything you miss about Ireland?

I miss my friends and family, that’s the biggest thing. But the work/life balance here is a better. I remember back in Ireland in winter time getting up for work, defrosting my car, and drinking a cup of tea to keep me warm. I remember it being dark when I was leaving for work and when I was returning. You don’t have that here, it’s mostly sunny, and if not, it’s still mild.

Aoife Carey works with Aurec Migration and Mobility, aurec.com

If you work in an interesting job overseas and would like to share your experience, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do.

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